There are a number of myopia treatment options available. Surgical techniques, like LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), and the use of contact lenses such as OrthoK have become increasingly popular. However, are these interventions effective in correcting myopia, and if they are, how effective are they?
The prevalence of myopia has increased rapidly in Asia, and around the world. Research estimates that by the year 2050, as many as 5 billion people will have myopia, and 20% of this myopic population will suffer from high myopia.
Myopia, if untreated or uncorrected, has the ability to affect almost all aspects of life. From psychological to financial influences, myopia has been known to affect daily life activities, like productivity and mobility.
With the increasing prevalence of visual impairment, there has been a parallel increase in the number of treatment options available.
Types of treatment options for myopia
There are a few different choices one can make when correcting vision. Usually, the type of vision correction chosen depends on things like prescription, financial situation and lifestyle.
Here are some of the options for vision correction:
- contact lenses
- orthokeratology contact lenses (OrthoK)
Let us now take a more in-depth look at LASIK and OrthoK.
First, what exactly is LASIK?
It is essentially a medical procedure involving a highly specialized laser that gently vaporizes cells beneath the cornea flap, changing the shape of the cornea so that light may be better focused by the eye. LASIK can correct myopia, hypermetropia and astigmatism.
Are you contemplating doing LASIK?
If you are, the most important outcome for you is likely to have a clear vision, without spectacles or other corrective eyewear.
What is OrthoK?
Perhaps not as famous as LASIK, OrthoK (or orthokeratology) is the wearing of special gas-permeable contact lenses usually overnight. During sleep, these lenses gently reshape the cornea of the eyes, allowing for clear vision upon waking up and removing the lenses. The effects of the lenses should be able to last for about 1 day and should be worn every night for optimal results.
With OrthoK, users are able to enjoy the benefits of good vision without needing to undergo any invasive procedures and without needing to wear any vision correction while awake. This may be very suitable for people with active lifestyles.
Side effects or risks associated with LASIK or OrthoK
LASIK and OrthoK are commonly associated with experiencing halos and glare because of the dramatic changes in the corneal shape.
Specifically, for LASIK, most may have perfect vision during the day, however, many people have reported experiencing night vision disturbances, which have even affected or caused difficulty driving at night. This is because people may experience poor vision in low light settings due to a decrease in contrast sensitivity. Other complications of LASIK include corneal ectasia (thinning of the cornea) and dry eyes.
Comparing Quality of Life Survey Results
A questionnaire was carried out to evaluate the quality of life in subjects with low to moderate myopia, and those who had undergone or were using 4 different types of eye correction, spectacles, contact lenses, LASIK or OrthoK.
Results from this survey showed an average decrease in quality of life for all methods, but LASIK had the lowest decrease (meaning best results), followed by OrthoK, spectacles and contact lenses (worst results).
Although it seems that LASIK and OrthoK have some side effects and risks, results from the survey show that people have a better quality of life when undergoing these procedures than when wearing glasses or contact lenses.
There are pros and cons associated with all types of myopia interventions, so it is up to you to be informed and make the final choice!